“All I heard was, it’s almost in stage four and the words were like, if you don’t follow treatment, you’re going to probably die. All I heard was die….”
Juliet Aguwa is a mother of two girls and a breast cancer survivor living in the US. In 2008, Juliet and her husband visited the hospital for their annual checkup and her husband was the one advised to lose weight.
A few months later, Juliet noticed a lump on her left breast. And at the time, Juliet just finished breastfeeding her last child. So, she was told that it might be the accumulation of breastmilk but at the back of her mind, she knew something was not right.
“Well, the results are there and it is cancerous,” the doctor told Juliet when she visited the hospital. Shocked at the report, Juliet left the doctor’s office to her home and she decided to start planning her burial.
Based on the test done, Juliet’s cancer was diagnosed to be on stage 3, which means that “the breast cancer has extended to beyond the immediate region of the tumour and may have invaded nearby lymph nodes and muscles, this stage is considered to be advanced.”
In Juliet’s case, it had grown from her left breast to her under arm and had affected twelve lymph nodes. An emergency surgery was done and she moved on to do chemotherapy and radiation.
“Am I going to die? I have two girls to raise,” Juliet asked the second oncologist she saw after the first oncologist’s interpretation of her test results got her scared.
Not sure of what the future held, she decided to make a video every two weeks for her young children just in case she didn’t make it. The first day of chemotherapy, (a category of cancer treatment that uses chemical substances, especially one or more anti-cancer drugs), Juliet was so weak she could barely do anything. She had problems eating or drinking because she lost her taste buds. At a point, she had a faint memory loss and forgot her daughters’ names.
After the chemotherapy, she had to take a break because “chemo is poison that is designed to fight the cancer cells but then, it affects all the cells in the body.”
“After the break, I proceeded with radiation. I would have to go into the room and lay flat on the bed and just be strapped two hands to the side and strapped with my head up.
I was not allowed to move at all because you had to radiate that particular area and because it was close to the heart, it was a very painful journey with the radiation. Just having to lay there and breathe because the radiation would only be administered based on your breathing and it was ten times harder to go through. This was something that I had to go through for a certain time and they had to stop because it has affected my oesophagus,” Juliet narrated.
After a month of rest, she went back to the procedure because it had to be completed. She then proceeded to the re-construction stage. While going for her treatment, Juliet had a room separated for her and there, she would pray and tell God to help her.
Few months later, she went to see her oncologist and she was declared cancer-free!
Having survived cancer, Juliet decided to come home and help other women fight the deadly disease.
Watch Juliet talk about her testimony here